In terms of a child’s nutrition, parents often think more about fat content, carbohydrates, and calories, but may forget about calcium, and this might be a mistake. Calcium is an important mineral that helps build strong and healthy bones. In this article, we’ll be discussing the importance of calcium and calcium supplements for kids.
Effects of calcium in children
Children’s bone density is a major factor in their likelihood of fractures since low bone density in late childhood predicts osteoporosis later in life. But this is insignificant compared to the lifelong consequences of low bone density. From when people hit puberty to when they are young, they have basically built all the bones they ever had.
How much calcium does a child need?
- Ages 1-3 years old: 700 mg per day(about two glasses of milk)
- Ages 4-8 years old: 1,000 mg per day (about three glasses of milk)
- Ages 9-18 years old: 1,300 mg per day (about four glasses of milk)
Where can children get calcium naturally?
Dairy products are the foods most commonly associated with high calcium levels. It’s worth noting that there are many other foods that are good sources of calcium, including other dairy products, many vegetables, calcium-fortified orange juice, and other calcium-fortified foods.
Here are some examples of foods containing calcium:
- Milk (whole or low-fat): 300 mg per serving (1 cup)
- Calcium-fortified soy, rice, or goat milk: 300 mg per serving (1 cup)
- Spinach: 120 mg per serving (1 cup uncooked or 1/2 cup cooked)
- Oranges: 50 mg per serving (1 medium orange)
- Instant Oatmeal: 100 mg (1 packet)
- Sweet potatoes: 44 mg per serving (1/2 cup mashed)
- Broccoli: 35 mg per serving (1 1/2 cups uncooked or 1/2 cup cooked)
- Calcium-fortified orange juice: 300 mg per serving (1 cup)
- Cooked dry white beans: 161 mg (1 oz) per serving
- Dried figs: 169 mg per serving (10 figs)
- Low-fat plain yogurt: 300-450 mg per serving (1 cup)
- American or processed cheese: 350 mg (2 ounces) per serving
Where else can our children get calcium?
Many other foods, including bread and cereals, may also contain calcium fortifiers that help increase your child’s daily calcium intake. It’s better to check the “Nutrition Facts” label of calcium-fortified brands.
If your child is not getting a lot of calcium from other food sources, you may want to ask your pediatrician if your older child can take Tums or a calcium chewable tablet with vitamin D (such as Viactiv) with 500 mg or more per serving.
Depending on the supplement, these types of calcium supplements can easily ensure your child is getting enough calcium. This is quite helpful for kids who have picky eaters. If children don’t like milk, yogurt, and orange juice, it may be difficult for them to get enough calcium. To make matters worse, they will also be less likely to want to eat other calcium-rich foods like spinach and broccoli.